|Illustration of Objects in the Kuiper Belt. Credit: UCLA|
It seems strange not, really see distant stars and even galaxies far away it could be done but to find and identify celestial bodies in the Kuiper Belt was difficult. Lest astronomers had only made it up. Logically it seems odd that we are only based on the distance of an object. Is not it easier to find items close than far away? But in fact if traced further, it is not strange. Because the same thing could happen in everyday life on Earth.
To observe objects in the universe, distance is not the main issue. In everyday life, how can we see an object? Using the eye is not? So to be able to see an object the cornea must receive light from the light source and then forwarded to the pupil of the eye to the retina. Without sunlight will not be able to identify an object.
The same thing happens in observing celestial objects. But, to make observations of celestial objects, our eyes have limited and only able to see objects up to a 6 magnitude brightness. That requires tools such as the telescope was first used by Galileo to look at the heavens 400 years ago.
Telescope into a tool that can bring people see things - a very distant celestial bodies. But it must be remembered that the function of the telescope with the eye. The telescope is essentially a tool for gathering light, strengthen, and collecting it in one place. Although the word "telescope" can be broken down into "tele" meaning "far" and "scope" means "look" or less meaning is "to see [the objects] away", but the main function of an astronomical telescope is not to look up to distance.
Why we are "easier" to see stars that are very far while the Kuiper belt objects in the Solar System is difficult to identify?
The answer lies in the source of light.
Star is located very far from Earth. Nearest star from Earth is the Sun and stars near the Sun next 4 light years away. There are even further and can be observed using a telescope. This is because the star has its own light source that despite being away can still be seen. So although distant objects but emits its own light source (and strong), it will be easy to spot, than close, but dim and does not emit its own light.
In the solar system, planets and other objects orbiting the Sun does not emit its own light. They receive light from the sun and then reflect it. That is why we can see the planets in the Solar System. But, the farther an object is from the light source the less that can be received and reflected back. That's what happened with the objects in the Kuiper Belt. Its location on the outer area of the solar system clear away from the light source (the Sun) that there is no light that can be collected to be seen. Or in other words in the Kuiper Belt objects are very faint.
Like when the power goes out when we're at home, then the objects around us we can not see but a very distant object on the other side of the road we can see even though only a dim lit.
Kuiper Belt over the years into an area that is only in theory, and only discovered in 1992. The objects in the Kuiper Belt is 30 AU from the orbit of Neptune and has more than 70,000 objects trans-Neptnunian with a diameter of more than 100 km. The discovery of an object in the Kuiper Belt is believed to be a high priority because the objects in the Kuiper Belt are still storing the material forming the solar system, so we can know how the beginning of the solar system before the planets formed.
Currently, in order to study the area in the Kuiper Belt Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) PS1 did a survey in the area to be able to find very faint objects in the area that is located 50 AU from the Sun. Pan-STARRS telescope is 1.8 meters by 1.4 giga pixel kamer (1400 mega pixels).
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